Tuesday, September 22, 2020, is the day! After months of preparation, a lengthy visa process, moving and packing, and spending time with family and friends, it was time to go to Spain. This was one of the rare times that I had a late flight, so I slept until late morning and then worked on a few last minute tasks and packed my carryon on. We ran into some last minute issues with unlocking my phone and preparing it for the local SIM chip. That was a pretty heightened and frustrating experience, but we worked through it and made quite a few phone calls to get that all sorted out. I said my goodbyes to my dad, and me and my mom and dog headed a few towns over for a visit into the phone store and to transfer me and my things over to Erin’s car, who would take over the rest of the drive down to Boston Logan Airport.
I arrived in Boston around 8:30 PM and got checked in at one of the international terminals. I got the boarding pass for my first leg of the trip with TAP Air Portugal, which was Boston, MA, USA, to Lisbon, Portugal (with a brief stop on the island of Ponta Delgada in Portugal). This was from 23:30 to 12:45 (8.25 hours).
After getting through check-in and security quickly, I found two other auxiliares, and we spent the rest of the time before boarding talking about their experience in the program in years prior. Around 23:00, it was time to board. This was the longest leg of the flight, and I did my best to sleep for some of it.
This was difficult because half-way we stopped on the island of Ponta Delgada to let off some passengers and for them to disinfect the plane. We only had to get off for about a half hour, but this was enough to interrupt sleeping.
After a few more hours, we landed in Lisbon. We had to go through the Portuguese COVID Tracking information, which we filled out on the plane. For those staying in Portugal beyond their connecting flight, a COVID-19 test was required. I have never seen customs/border patrol so empty. Tourism to the EU is extremely limited, and completely closed to anyone from America. This really sped up the process getting through the airport.
Next trip was Lisbon to Madrid at 15:15 (1.25 hours). I spent some time getting lunch in the airport, making a few phone calls, and resting. Then, after checking the departing gate information, it was boarding time for the flight to Madrid.
After landing in Madrid, I was switching airlines, so I had to leave the boarding area to go to baggage claim, which I absolutely hate doing. I have not checked any baggage in years because of the stress it adds. But, moving abroad for a year, it was clearly necessary. After getting my baggage, I had to take a bus to the correct terminal for the last flight. I had less than two hours, and I wasn’t sure if that would be enough time to deboard the plane, go through customs, get baggage, check-in and check baggage again, and get to the right terminal. I was surprisingly able to do all of that within about 30-40 minutes, which was unheard of before COVID and limited travel
Then, finally, the last leg was with Iberia Express, from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela from 17:50 to 21:00. I got to my gate and had about a half hour to spare, then it was boarding time.
This is when I really got hit with fatigue and physical exhaustion from so much time traveling. I only had a couple hours to go, so I powered through.
After just over an hour, we landed in Santiago de Compostela. Here, my Air BNB host met me and drove me back to where I will be staying for the next month: Poio, Pontevedra.
After getting all my things up to my room and oriented to the place, I went right to bed and fell asleep before I could even set an alarm. I ended up sleeping 12+ hours, and I definitely needed it. It was my longest day of travel so far, and it certainly takes a toll on your body and mind. But, I was finally in Spain, and ready for the adventure to begin!